Thursday, March 29, 2007
GOODBYE VIETNAM AND HELLO RE-WRITE
On this day in 1973, the last American troops left Vietnam-- the costliest mistake in all of United States history. We had never lost a war before-- but we sure lost this one-- and badly. So many young Americans lost their lives defending a cause that simply couldn't be won with conventional warfare. It ruined the presidency of Lyndon Johnson and it was a sad commentary on the futility of war. Perhaps we will learn our lesson finally in Iraq. I read this morning where the United States Senate has passed a resolution that would mandate all troop withdrawal from Iraq by March of 2008. The president has vowed to veto it, but we shall see. I am hoping that Congress stands its ground. Enough is Enough!
Let's leave! For the good of the country!
A bitter lesson was learned by me on Sunday at the reading of "The Traveling Companion" Now I know what Ricky Nelson encountered at his infamous rejection at the "Garden Party" way in 1963. Lots of folks couldn't find the school we held the reading at and so we had none of their feedback. But unfortunately, "Traveling" is just too long and too linear. Today's audience wants the MGM version of "The Wizard Of Oz"
Not simply a great story dramatized. It will take me some time to recover the beating up that I got. But I need to pray about it too-- because much of the criticism came from kids in high school-- and we all know how long their attention span is. These are also the same kids who think Frank Sinatra is boring! But I think I have an approach to the re-write-- it simply is going to take me awhile to gather up the courage to do it. It may not be very Hans Christian Andersen by the time I finish with it and I may have to say on the credit page that it's simply "suggested by the classic fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen, instead of "based on the classic fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. There is one bright note-- Act Two is far better than Act One and its usually Act Two that is traditionally the part of the show that brings it down. I wrote an old friend about it-- Mr. Charles Strouse (the composer of "Annie" and "Bye Bye Birdie". We had met at an ASCAP membership meeting in Los Angeles when I attended with J.T. Steele. He reminded me in a phone conversation that he's had more failures than successes in his life. We all know how wonderful "Annie" and "Bye Bye Birdie" was but as he reminded me there were shows like "It's A Bird, It's A Plane" (the Superman musical that opened on this date in 1966 and closed seventy-five performances later, the sequel to "Annie" called "Annie Warbucks" which opened and closed in five performances and of course the sequel to "Bye Bye Birdie" called "Bring Back Birdie" (with Donald O' Connor in a jump suit as Birdie) which opened and closed with the critics wrath in seven performances and the biggest loser of them all was with Stephen Schwartz, himself called "Rags" which opened and closed in 1986 after just four performances. "The critics assassinated that one and Stephen is still cringing after all this time" he told me. Joseph Stein "("Fiddler On The Roof) wrote the libretto. So Mr.Strouse gave me some tips, and I'm going to use them to help me do this re-write. Now I simply have to find the courage to begin.